Sunday, August 31, 2008

Fabric Cutting

This week I have been cutting fabric from my stash. I had a stack of light cream pieces that were factory leftovers that were a quilt room donation. I cut some squares from it for applique (another post on that project later), but there were skinny pieces left, so I cut them into 2 x 5-inch strips. I had seen a photo of a rail fence design like this once, so thought these newly cut pieces would be perfect for this variation. Again, leftovers from one project inspired another! I cut some fabrics that were leftovers from other things into the same size pieces, and stitched them into blocks, a print, muslin and then print. I love the on-point set of this design. One top later, and I have pieces left, of course. With a solid blue used for the setting triangles and a border, the lap quilt is very colorful and cheery.

I spent 13 hours one day pressing scraps and cutting them into the shapes. I've had a sore arm for a few days as a result. I don't usually do that much at one time, but wanted to get the mess taken care of at one time. I do have one rule about cutting scrap that I have found very useful, and that is that a fabric gets cut up all lthe way while it is on the cutting mat unless it is yardage or I have a specific plan for it. That means that I may be cutting a specific size or shape right now, but if it is scrap, the rest of it gets cut into usuable shapes now and these shapes are put into storage for future projects rather than getting folded up and then have to be pressed and re-cut at a later time. My focus this week was 2 x 5-inch strips, but ends of strips were cut into squares or 1-1/2-inch strips. All of the scrap I cut is taken care of, either the shapes I need now or squares and strips for a future project.

A friend donated some great new books on scrap quilting to the quilt room this week, and I brought a few home to browse through. I got a great new idea from each book! I have recently learned how to use my scanner so I have been scanning project ideas and saving them as computer files, and I am getting quite paperless! Ain't technology great? I don't have many skills (as friends comment they need to start charging me by the hour for consultation) but I love to be able to learn new things, especially when they help me save more space for fabric.

Today I was going through a binder of quilt designs that I had created for scrap quilts several years ago. It had to be a LONG time ago, as they were printed on my dot-matrix printer. Anyway, I discovered a 4-patch variation I had created and forgotten about. It is an interesting design, and thinking about all those squares I cut from the leftovers this week...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Good Week

This week I basted and quilted two baby Trip Around the World quilts, and bound four of them, completing the ten of them pieced this year by our quilt group. As soon as labels are on them they will be ready for donation.
In a fabric donation from a group member I came across a strip of the cute pre-print fabric that had a nice sawtooth border around the blocks. However, it was cut from the two ends of the strip, and there were only 8 motifs. I hated to lose that border, but with trimming and seaming two scrap pieces together I was able to get enough for this small baby quilt. I will bind it with the blue print, as there is just enough left of it for the binding. The top is ready for basting now.
I machine quilt my quilts using monofilament on the top. I recently acquired some lovely Superior Thread trilobal varigated which I have been using for bobbin thread and I love using it. My vision is not great, and by using the monofilament on the top my mistakes are not too obvious, and makes a secure quilt which will launder well. I quilt on a Juki industrial which is quick and gives me a wonderful stitch.
I have been working on four other scrap quilts this week as well. With the purchase of a new camera I will be sharing more photos soon.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fabric Bonanza

After spending 12 hours stitching on quilts at the Sr. Citizen's Center, I discovered a huge donation of fabric on my doorstep. The spouse of a fabric sales representative had spent countless hours pulling sample fabrics from their cardboard backing and had packaged them up and delivered them to me. I was so excited to receive them. Hundreds of pieces of new fabric! It was better than a shopping spree. The pieces are not large, for the most part, but my hands were itching to start cutting and sewing at that late hour.

The next day was spent in sorting the fabric to get it ready to use. How to sort scraps is always a dilemma as each assortment of scrap donations is different. Each quilter has individual taste, so things differ from person to person. My first storting is usually by size of the pieces. I try to sort according to the designs that I most commonly make or have need of pieces for. Narrower strips go into my "string" collection, which is one of my favorite uses of scraps. Using sew and flip technique I can be quite thoughtless about the fabrics that go into a block, and since the base fabric or paper to which I stitch determines the shape of the design, I can stitch for a long time without great convern about what I use. I have a goal to make 100 string quilts, and am at 27 or 28 right now. Why 100? Why not? String strips go into a large plastic tub under the sewing machine which can be pulled out when sewing, and pushed back when not in use. If there are a large number of strips in one color family I may put them in a ziplock bag and then into the tub.

Four-patch and Nine-patch units use squares, usually 2 or 2-1/2-inches in size. Squares and strips go into plastic storage drawers which I can pull out when working on a design using those pieces, and slipped back into place when not needed, awaiting new additions to the collection.

When I have larger pieces that will have to be cut before they can be used I use different methods to sort them. Most often I sort them by style unless there are a large number of piecies in one color. I recently sorted some scrap from a woman who was moving and gave me a box of scraps. There were quite a number of blue and of red scraps, so I put them together with the idea of using them together in a future project. In the case of my new fabrics, the categories of sort were:
tone on tone prints
bright contemporary prints
dark reproduction style prints
plaids, checks and stripes
light background prints and toiles
theme and holiday prints
wall paper prints (what I might see on my grandparent's walls)
Kiddie theme prints for I Spy quilts

I recently discovered the paper storage boxes of clear plastic that are sold in scrapbook stores for the storage of scrapbook paper. Sizes 8 x 11 and 12 x 12, they have attached lids that close securely, and they stack very well. Shops in our area are packaging their quilt kits in them, and tied up with a nice ribbon they are very presentable. I put all of my nicely sorted scraps in them and sadly, put them away until the next quilt project comes along--which won't be long! I'll report later on about how useful the boxes are for storage of my scraps as well as in-progress projects.

This past week I completed a quilt top from a raw edge applique string project where I used the nice florals I had just received. Alas, my camera has died and has to be replaced so I can capture some pictures of it to post. However I am most pleased with it, and a second one is on the way. When cutting the background squares for it (another donation), I had leftovers, so cut 2 x 5-inch pieces of it. I cut scrap prints to go with it and have sewn the blocks for a rail-fence quilt. I just need to select some setting and border fabric, cut some triangles from it, and then the on-point set of that quilt will be under-way. I also cut the red and blue fabrics for another quilt, and it is ready for the block constructions--also all of donated fabric. I hope to soon have pictures of these projects posted.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Great Job, Ladies!

The ladies in our quilt group created the strip sets for this mock barjello quilt top at our July community service day. Two lap-size quilts were created this month using donated fabrics.

The quilt started with some factory scrap of hot pink with black and white dots and large purple and yellow flowers. It was pretty bright and a large print. The challenge was how to incorporate it into a pleasing quilt design that would be simple for a group experience. I have been experimenting with London Stairs variations lately, so selected some colors and prints from the available fabrics, and I had the ladies cut 2-1/2- x 4-1/2-inch rectangles and some 2-1/2-inch squares. On the appointed day I had the ladies seam strip sets of the 5 prints, sewing them in the designated order. Some ladies organized, some stitched, some pressed, and as the strips were completed we began placing them on the design wall.

Row one starts with 3 strip sets (15 rectangles). Row two starts with a square of the last color in the strip sets, and ends with a square of the next-to-last color in the strip set. We used two sewn sets, and added what we needed to complete the row. The third row started with a rectangle of the last color in the strip set, 2 strip sets, and rectangles to complete the row. Row 4 repeats row 2, row 5 repeats row 1.

Any number of rows can be used and any number of rectangles in the rows. In this case we were making a lap-size quilt, and I think somewhere in the 40-42-inch width is perfect as a backing fabric will not have to be pieced to fit it. Fifteen rectangles down and 23 across was about right. Also the rows to drop down or up is purely a matter of personal preference. With the fabrics we were using the proportion seems just right. If you are deisgning your own, start at the center and design out to the sides, using an uneven number of rows. It is just easier that way.

When the second top was finished there were two rectangles of one fabric left, and two pair of rectangles that the ladies had sewn from all the sewing that was done during the day. Some quilts are just destined to be made! Two children will receive cozy flannel backed quilts through Project Linus later this year. Good work, ladies!

There are a few rectangles left--lots of the hot prink print. New quilts will be coming from those leftovers. Are those scraps cookies or milk?